Court dismisses case alleging child's death was caused by mold and fecal material; holds evidence too speculative
The family of Julia E. Ficaj sued Robert Pray, arguing that Julia's death resulted from toxic mold in the home Pray sold to the Ficaj family without proper disclosure. The mold resulted from improperly functioning plumbing that deposited fecal material in the crawlspace under the home. The Court of Appeals this week upheld the trial judge's dismissal of the law suit, concluding that the family's medical testimony was inadequate and too "speculative" to support a wrongful death claim.
The family claimed that when they moved into the home, everyone suffered flu-like symptoms and that 13-month old Julia ultimately developed necrotizing vasculitis and severe erythemia. The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner attributed her death to "acute encephalomyelitis." Her brain appeared to be damaged by a fungal infection, according to a U of M Neuropathologist, however, the CDC could never confirm whether the infection or vasculitis was of bacterial, viral or fungal origin. Her doctors wrote that Julia suffered an "uncontrolled reaction to something that most likely we will never identify."
The Court concluded that no reasonable juror could attribute Julia's death to the existence of mold in the home.